A welcoming house, time with family and friends, gifts under the tree – Christmas in our society is filled with many warm and wonderful images and feelings. There are the carols, the gifts, countless decorations, and mountains of festive food. As the popular holiday song goes: “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
For us Christians, this is certainly the most wonderful time of the year, but not for the reasons that our society would have us believe (the good food that we will eat or the family memories that will be enjoyed). Rather, we will rejoice, take comfort and wait for the coming of Jesus Christ – born into our flesh on Christmas morning to be our Lord and Savior. This is truly good news! And it is news that needs to be proclaimed in today’s world more than ever.
Christ was born in a meager stall on that first Christmas morning, and He spent His time on earth with the poor, the sick, and sinners. To be sure, Jesus spent His time among neighborhoods that are not unlike a good number of the communities surrounding our LCMS congregations today. In the impoverished communities of our inner cities and rural towns, the popular American Christmas is a thin veneer. Every day, our neighbors in these communities face poor housing conditions, deteriorated neighborhoods, rampant crime, pestilence, violence, drug abuse and other struggles.
Praise God that he has sent His only Son to our broken communities to care for us sinners! This is a message that guides our work at Lutheran Housing Support (LHS) throughout the year. We rejoice that God cares for the least of us and has given us the tools that we need to be His hands and feet – supporting our neighbors’ needs of body and soul through community development efforts. Every year, with the support of donors like you, LHS provides thousands of hours of technical assistance; tens of thousands of dollars in grants; and direct housing services to more than thirty communities across the United States.
This fall, Carolyn Conner, a 50-year-old traffic court clerk and bank transaction processor in St. Louis (MO), will leave her nearby family home and move into her very own new house next door.
The St. Louis native has dreamed of owning a new home since she was a little girl.
“As we get older, our dreams don’t always come to pass,” Carolyn said. “It just so happens that this one is. I’m very grateful.”
Carolyn will be moving into the second new Nazareth Home in the St. Louis community of College Hill. Nazareth Homes is a new affordable housing development being built by Lutheran Housing Support. It is part of a multi-year neighborhood revitalization effort being carried out around St. Paul Lutheran Church and is supported entirely by philanthropic gifts (both Lutheran and non-Lutheran).
Carolyn heard about the Nazareth Homes development from her nephew who lives next door to a St. Paul member. She had been wanting to move out on her own for a while now but never had the training or resources to do so until today. In late 2012, Carolyn went through LHS’ homebuyer education program in College Hill – taking classes in both home purchasing and budgeting. “I just took a chance on it not knowing that I would qualify. Thank goodness I did qualify.”
Her dream was to have her own home. “The next dream I have is to have it paid off before I retire.”
This Christmas, we rejoice and give thanks for the resources that donors like you have provided to us so that we can assist Lutheran congregations throughout the United States in supporting their neighbors. We ask that you will continue to pray for this important work and assist The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s (LCMS) efforts to care for our neighbors though housing ministry by making a gift today.
Please help to keep the real message and joy of Christ in communities surrounding LCMS altars through faith made active in love. We wish you a happy Christmas and pray that you will find joy and comfort with your family in our wonderful Savior, who comes to us this Season with forgiveness and peace.
God's Richest Blessings,
Nicole Ridley, Chief Executive Officer
800-248-1930, Ext. 2822
PS. This Christmas, be His hands and feet – support our neighbors’ needs of body and soul through Lutheran Housing Support’s community development efforts by making your gift today.